Skip to comments.Why French brie isn't kosher
Posted on 04/24/2002 5:29:39 AM PDT by SJackson
The French once defined high fashion, fine wines and old cheese, and a language crisp with clarity. We were willing to forget the way they roughed up that Dreyfus fellow, assisted in the deporting of thousands of Jews to the concentration camps ("the Nazis made us do it") and then, after the Nazis had been defeated, built a memorial in 1946 to 44 Jewish children who had been snatched from an orphanage and sent to Auschwitz, and wouldn't identify them as Jewish.
The French sometimes correct themselves when their hypocrisies and self-interests are exposed, but only with a lot of pressure from outsiders. So we can hope that someday the French - along with other Europeans - who are trying to hide their anti-Semitism behind sympathy for the Palestinians will think again. But I wouldn't bet a wedge of brie, even accompanied by a bottle of good California Merlot, on it.
France joined Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Sweden to condone, not condemn, Palestinian terrorism. They all voted as members of the United Nations Human Rights Commission - this is the same commission that kicked the United States from its membership two years ago. Canada, Germany and Britain opposed the resolution and brave Italy abstained.
"A vote in favor of this resolution is a vote for Palestinian terrorism," Alfred Moses, a former U.S. ambassador to the commission and now chairman of UN Watch, a monitoring group, told the Toronto-based National Post. "Any country that condones - or is indifferent to - the murder of Israeli civilians in markets, on buses and in cafes has lost any moral standing to criticize Israel's human rights record."
The Austrians, as usual, tried to have it both ways. They signed the resolution but said they didn't like it, particularly the use of the word "Judaization" to describe Israeli policies in Jerusalem, and the accusation against Israel of "acts of mass killing." The resolution affirms "the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to resist the Israeli occupation," and the words by "all available means," logically interpreted as an endorsement of suicide bombings, were deleted only at the last minute.
The French, who have closed their eyes to Islamist terrorism in Israel, have made the Jews in their own country all the more vulnerable as anti-Semitic violence mounts there. The Jewish community in France, the largest in Europe, numbers about 700,000, but this is small compared to the 5 million Muslims who terrify the rest of the population.
The Paris government reports up to 12 violent incidents against Jews every day. Over the past 18 months more than 400 anti-Semitic attacks have been documented in France. Cemeteries are desecrated with swastikas, a synagogue was burned down in Marseilles, and organized thugs in hooded scarves attacked a teen-age Jewish soccer team in a working class neighborhood near Paris. The gang of North African boys fell upon the Maccabee soccer team with sticks and bars, shouting "death to the Jews."
Mercifully, nobody was killed, and the anti-Semitic violence today is nothing like the violence in France under the Nazis, but when the French ambassador to England feels free to compare Jews to feces at an A-list dinner party in London, it's clear where all this could easily go.
France has always indulged moral ambiguity when it comes to the Jews. Unlike the Germans, they felt no need to atone for anything when they were confronted with their participation in the Holocaust. By their lights, they were occupied, by the Nazis. When, in 1972, Marcel Ophuls, the film director, produced "The Sorrow and the Pity," a documentary about French anti-Semitism and cowardice during the Vichy period, French audiences were so outraged that the movie was banned from French television until 1981.
This has been a simmering source of bitterness in the French Jewish community since. The Resistance, which so bravely fought back when a majority of their countrymen embraced the Nazi occupation, did little to save Jews, never attempting even to stop a deportation train to the death camps.
The French have often excluded Jews from their national identity. In 1980, when neo-Nazi groups in Paris attacked a synagogue and killed four Jews, Raymond Barre, the prime minister, condemned the attack but added, in a notorious aside, that "innocent Frenchmen" might also have been killed. The sentiment caused a brief diplomatic uproar, but was nevertheless commonplace.
But the French are less squeamish today, with a large, restless, angry Muslim population in their midst. They condemn the Israelis for defending themselves and ignore the suicide murderers of Jews with no fear of exposing anti-Semitic sentiment. The thugs on the soccer field had no trouble interpreting the national sentiment. Neither should the rest of us.
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2- I've said it before and I will repeat it again, antisemitism among non arabo-muslim French has practically disappeared. I refuse to see my compatriots being considered as antisemitic because of silly acts from brainwashed muslim teenagers. The people who are promoting this vision of France are nothing but incorrigible francophobic who have found another occasion for easy french-bashing.
3- The apparently pro-palestinian stance of France has NOTHING TO DO with antisemitism. It is too easy to answer to anyone who is critical of Sharon's policies that he is consequently and antisemitic. The feeling of guilt from France towards the arabic world is extremely strong today, and the French tend to see too many similarities between the Algerian independance war and the military actions by Israel in the colonized territories. To the French (arabo-muslims non included), Israel is just another western nation, technically and militarly superior to the Arabic nations, and apparently taking advantage of this superiority to conquer lands which are not supposed to be part of Israel. Just like France did before and is ashamed of having done so. This may be a very wrong way of seeing the situation, but at least this is not antisemitism.
Ashkenazic Jews were invited into France by Charlemagne in 800 and lived in France till World War II; almost none of them survived the deportations to the Nazi death camps. France's Jewish community today (the largest in Western Europe, but only a small fraction of the Jewish population of France in 1939) is composed primarilly of Sephardic Jews, who lived in North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, etc.) until their countries gained independence from France. When the new Moslem governments began to make things tough on the Jews, these Jews (who were French-speaking) moved to France.
You're going to have a tough time of it some days on FR adopting a stance like that. But hey, more power to 'ya.
The one thing you could say for them, however, is that they have raised arrogance to an art form.
Tell ya what, though, I've got some brie in the fridge. I think I'll go pirate a nice big wedge, melt it in a croissant, and see if I can come up with something.(burp)
Because, even if you have to go out of your way to do it, it's the right and proper thing to do.
In case you hadn't noticed, this is a discussion forum. People here on FR are free to discuss, or even just to comment on, anything that's posted, whether you (or I) agree with it or not. It doesn't even have to be based on hard concrete fact, it can just be an opinion, an expression, or even just an emotional feeling. Get used to it, or get ready to be upset all the time. Either way, welcome aboard.
And when Daniel Bernard said that Israel is "that shitty little country" which threatens world peace, had he suddenly been transformed into a brainwashed arabo-muslim French teenager for a few moments? Is the government of France, the one that keeps Bernard employed as its Ambassador to Great Britian, composed of brainwashed arabo-muslim French teenagers?
Nobody knows who has started these allegations. I don't know how true they are, I have no idea of the context, and he denied using the word "shitty". Even if they are true, they are scandalous indeed and they clearly do not help, but this is an accident, not a symptom. If France's "deeply-rooted antisemitism" was real, I'm pretty sure there would be more solid evidences than one alleged remark by one individual.
"What the French woman will be wearing this year" fashion show.
Scene: Fashion runway, and all the models swathed in the various Islamist blanketing.
First model in sheets and blankets of Evil-Eye Blue (that's why they wear so much blue, to ward off the evil eye. Women being so very evil, they wear the blue)....she waddles down, rags waving like the Ringwraiths in Lord of the Rings. Stops at end, pivots smartly.
BURQUA! the announcer shouts.
Next model in black robes like Death Takes a Walk, does likewise.
ABAYA! from the announcer
Follows with CHADOR, of course.
How long will it be before French women have all these options to choose from?
Muslim tradition requires women to remove body hair, so there will be some improvement in the French hygene.
As a matter of fact, we do know who "started these allegations." This charming example of the Gaullic bon mot was made at a private gathering at the London home of Lord Black of Crossharbour. They were referred to - without revealing the identity of Bernard - in a column published in the Daily Telegraph on Monday, December 17, 2001, by Black's wife, Barbara Amiel. Amiel noted the ambassador of a major European Union country "politely told a gathering at my home that the current troubles in the world were all because of 'that shitty little country Israel.'" The identity of the speaker soon bacame known. That he denied using undiplomatic language is hardly surprising. What he did not deny was the opinion he expressed, nor did he show any recognition of how offensive his remarks were. Of course, being French, he might have thought being offensive was his job.
"Why," Bernard was quoted as asking, "should the world be in danger of World War III because of those people?"
Of course, Americans might question why we got involved in convincing the German army to get out of France (again!), in World War II. By the 1980s, the French, gratitude cleverly disguised as craven grovelling before a certain Middle Eastern tinpot dictator, helped their main NATO ally by refusing to allow American pilots to overfly sacred French airspace when we were bombing Ghadaffy, thereby adding several hours to the trip. They then displayed a Tati-like sense of humor when they complained that errant missiles -- fired by our very tired pilots -- missed their intended targets and hit French property.
Bernard's vile little remark isn't the only example of anti-semitism in France, it's just the ripest. There are now more documented examples of anti-Jewish violence in France in 2002 than there were in Germany in the year of Kristalnacht. The French police routinely look the other way, or refuse to characterize attacks on synagogues as "anti-semetic." This is in line with France's history of anti-semitism, about which the most telling fact is how remarkably little coercion from the Gestapo was needed to get the French to pack their Jewish citizens off to extermination camps.
Now, don't talk to me about gratitude when it comes to the Franco-American relations, will you? I could remind you a thing or two about America's behaviour towards France duting the end of the 18th and the whole 19th century. As far as Khadafi is concerned, the explanation is simple: Mitterand was a lunatic who always refused something when it was not asked politely. The US informed Mitterand that their planes would take a route flying over France, without explicitely making the request. Mitterand got pissed and said "screw you, next time you'll learn to be polite". That's quite typical of his peculiar personality. The thing that of course you will never want to notice is the fact that France has proven trustworthy when it really mattered, and has appeared highly undisciplined and irritating when the rhetorics had no actual consequences. Remember, the French like posturing. Action is secondary.
As for the claim that the police pretended to look elsewere, it is plain ridiculous; as a matter of fact, these days, the police in France seems unable to protect anyone (which is not without connection with the results of some election you may have heard about...). But you will see, if you come to France, that the synagogues are probably the places which are the most surrounded by policemen these days.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center dismissed President Chirac's denial of an upsurge of antisemitism in France as "a politically-induced myopia which only increases the fears of French Jewry", said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Rabbi Cooper said that he and Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Center's European Director, experienced the same response from French Interior Minister Valliant during a meeting two weeks ago in France. "French officials are more than happy to condemn Le Pen and anti-Jewish hate crimes from the far-right, but have steadfastly refused to publicly condemn and deal with over 300 hate crimes against French Jewry inspired by radical Muslim clerics," Cooper added.
"Just last week President Chirac gave an election speech in Garges-Les-Gonesse, a suburb of Paris on 'insecurity and safety', just 200 meters from the site of a recent attack on a school bus of Jewish kids by local Arab thugs. Incredibly, no Jewish leaders were invited to the speech and no mention of antisemitism was uttered by the French President, he added.
Is it any wonder French Jews are frightened for their safety and future?" Cooper concluded.
And from World Jewish Congress :
Across the English Channel in France, the situation is scarcely better and in many respects far worse. Historian Pierre Andre Taguieff, a noted French authority on racism and antisemitism, claims that [n]ot since the Second World War have we witnessed such a rash of anti-Jewish acts, which have met with such limited intellectual and political resistance. One thing is certain At the start of the 21st century we are discovering that Jews are once again select targets of violence. It is dangerous to identify as a Jew today. Hatred of Jews has returned to France.
One symptom of that hostility is to be found in the fact that state and government officials have been even more outspoken in their hostility toward Israel and in some instances have even attempted to contextualize the antisemitic violence that erupted in the wake of the latest Intifada.
In a discussion on the recent violence against Jewish institutions and individuals in France, French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine claimed one is not shocked when young French Jews instinctively sympathize with Israel regardless of its policies So one should not be shocked when young French citizens [of North African background] feel compassion for the Palestinians. In so doing, he gave a green light to those who wished to demonstrate their support for the Palestinian Arabs through violence. There has been little reaction in the French public to the phenomenon of Muslim demonstrators chanting Death to Jews in the center of Paris. Given the country's wartime history of collaboration in the destruction of the French Jewish community, this silence is especially disturbing. There may, in fact, be a link between the demonization of Israel and that guilt. By painting Israel as an apartheid or even Nazi state, the French can see the annihilation of European Jewry as being somehow less evil. And they can view the Israelis as having lost the moral high ground in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
There is, of course, little love between French elites and the Muslim community in France, but it seems that there is, at least on the Jewish question, a degree of common And one suspects, that there is even a degree of satisfaction in certain circles that Muslims are on the offensive against the Jews. But then, where Jews, or rather the hatred of Jews, are concerned the strangest and least likely alliances have emerged and may yet be emerging again.
Meantime, French President Jacques Chirac has declared that there is no antisemitism in France. He, the first French leader to openly acknowledge French complicity in the deportation of French Jews in the Holocaust, has intimated that the Jews would be wise not to even suggest that there is any antipathy toward Jews in France or face serious consequences.
France, of course, has a long history of attempting to appease Arab despots in order to further its own interests in the Middle East. Not surprisingly, the French media has also displayed a marked preference for the Arab cause reporting on the recent violence in the Middle East. In France too, the Muslim population, which outnumbers the Jewish population by a factor of more than 5:1 may be expected to wield increasing political clout.
Yeah right, Chirac threatened the jews to stop complainig or face consequences... I guess this sentence pretty much illustrates how "unbiased" the authors of this article are.
Including 290 graffitis... Why did the authors of this paper fail to mention that? Could if be that they gave some kind of interest in dramatizing the situation?
Apr 4th 2002 | PARIS
From The Economist print edition
Despite a rising number of attacks, general anti-Semitism may be declining
A SYNAGOGUE burned to the ground in Marseilles; two other synagogues attacked in Lyons and Strasbourg; a shotgun assault on a kosher butcher's shop in Toulouse; a cemetery vandalised near Strasbourg: the horrors of a single Easter holiday are suddenly posing questions the French would rather not ask, let alone answer. Is a general but latent anti-Jewish sentiment coming into the open? Or does the year-long wave of anti-Jewish acts, from graffiti to physical assaults, reflect rather the events in the Middle East, and so perhaps also France's failure to integrate its Muslim, pro-Palestinian minority?
Whatever the answers, the fact is that France, home to around 5m Muslims, mostly of North African extraction, and about 600,000 Jews, has more Muslims and Jews than any other country in Western Europe. The Muslims, concentrated in working-class suburbs that have become ghettos of poverty, poor education, unemployment and crime, all too often feel excluded from the mainstream. For their part, the Jews remember all too well France's dubious record under Nazi occupation. Many Sephardic Jews remember, too, their painful flight from North Africa when France's colonies gained their independence four decades ago.
In other words, the present situation is politically and socially volatilehence the denunciation of the recent attacks by every right-thinking politician. France's conservative president, Jacques Chirac, on a special visit to a synagogue in Le Havre, described the attacks as unimaginable, unpardonable and unworthy of France and the French, and called on Lionel Jospin, the Socialist prime minister who is challenging Mr Chirac for the presidency next month, to take sterner measures to protect Jewish buildings. Mr Jospin, stressing that nothing in the absolutely dramatic situation of the Middle East can justify acts of aggression against our Jewish compatriots or any others, was already ordering such measures: another 1,100 police and gendarmes to guard Jewish sites in Marseilles, Lyons and ten other big towns.
The incidents do seem to be connected with the politics of the Middle East. A book recently put out by the Union of Jewish Students in France and an anti-racist organisation claims that over 400 anti-Jewish incidents took place between September 2000, at the start of the Palestinians' latest intifada, and February this year. They ranged from verbal intimidation to Molotov cocktails. The government of Israel has responded by offering subsidies to encourage French Jews to emigrate, claiming that France is the worst western country concerning anti-Semitism.
Such a charge infuriates France's political eliteand mystifies even Israel's ambassador to Paris, Eli Barnavi, who notes that all the polls show that the Jewish community is increasingly integrated and that only some 10% of the French population manifests any anti-Semitic feeling.
But it will surely be easier to inflame emotions than to soothe them. The Consistory of Paris, a body set up by Napoleon to organise Jewish religious practices, has already described the Easter attacks as the beginnings of a new Kristallnacht, with the government totally passive.
Nooo, because there are a large number of Freepers that don't like France or the inhabitants thereof. Simple as that.
That no one was hurt when the molotov cocktails started flying is fortunate, but I wouldn't confuse incompetence with a gesture of friendship.
I don't suppose ... the period of the French Revolution euphemistically called "The Terror" ... might have dampened our ardor for things French just a teeny bit?
Regarding our poor choice of words when we wanted to fly over France -- I guess it's a good thing we phrased the requests more obsequiously in 1917 and 1944, huh?
Don't bother telling me how safe French synagogues are. I have personal sources telling me otherwise.